As I delete yet another cold email event invite from my in box…
A friend and I were recently talking about the biz women groups here in town. We’ve been members of or attended events by pretty much all of them. However, we seldom go to any of the meetings these days. Because, as my friend noted, “They’re so middle management.” (She had run three big companies before she was 30.) She felt badly for saying that, until I chimed in with, “No, more like beginners and hobbyists” which sounds even meaner…but is it really?
Nothing wrong with beginners (we all started somewhere) or hobby businesses (I’m thinking of starting one myself), but generally they have different perspective and needs than experienced, established business people.
And, so we come to the problem of many organizations and events designed for women…
It’s assumed we’re all the same, just as lazy marketers the world over do when pitching to women. Hey, one size fits all – and we all love pink, kids, and hugs! They assume we’re nice ladies with a little biz on the side (hubs pays the bills)…or we have no experience in finance (those numbers are scary!)…or we’re Mommies selling vitamins…that we want life coaching, mentoring, or the basics in marketing, sales and the like. Personally, I don’t want to spend forty bucks for rubber chicken and a smiley face “expert” lecture on life/work balance (I got it already!) As all women know (regardless of our biz), one size really doesn’t fit all… no matter what the label claims. (Example: “Financial planning for women.” What? Having ovaries makes a difference in how to invest?!)
When I served on the board of the local NAWBO chapter (National Association of Women Biz Owners), we constantly struggled with how to effectively address the needs of our members – from seasoned biz owner to beginner. From hobbyist to hard charger. If I loved a program or seminar, it baffled and bored at least half the members. Then, the other half (and I) would practically sprain a muscle rolling our eyes at an inspirational speaker rambling on and on and on about how she overcame her particular crisis. Good for her, but listening to that much deep navel gazing gets boring quickly, and – really – there is such a thing as Too.Much.Information. So, I know it’s tough. (Our fundamental problem? Trying to be all things to all people. It DOES NOT work).
…and, hello, industry trade groups everywhere (yes, tech geek boys, I’m talkin’ to you) – having yet another slapped-together single panel discussion at your event on why there aren’t more women in your industry is neither addressing the issue nor “marketing to women.” In fact, it’s insulting to those of us already in the industry. We’re already there…we just don’t get asked to sit on those panels…and, after all, someone has to be back at the office actually doing something.
By Guest Blogger, Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter
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